Barry Adamson’s I Will Set You Free could have been a Top Star album here at CoS, had it maintained the beat, sneer, and funk that kick off the album. Instead, Adamson’s latest effort is half-hearted. You could draw a line in the sand and divvy up the good songs from the bad, which still should not take away from the quality inside this beast. Adamson’s past with Nick Cave as one of his Bad Seeds is evident here, but there won’t be any confusing the two by album’s end.
The first track in question is the downright jovial “Get Your Mind Right”, with a thudding rhythm section, organs, and guitars in good measure. Unfortunately, the next track, “Black Holes in My Brain”, manages to feature many of the same instruments but forgets a soul. This repeats throughout the record: Almost every other song is good. The halfway point of the record, “Destination”, is definitely an example of one of the choice cuts, gleaming with an early ’80s Bowie-tint and one hell of a chorus. “If You Love Her” could have fallen into a maudlin, piano-ballad territory, but somehow slides past it. Unfortunately, it isn’t enough. “Looking to Love Somebody” has a cheesy ’80s gloss, but not in a cool Destroyer Kaputt kind of way.
Barry Adamson’s I Will Set You Free is a mixed bag if there ever was one. Some songs sizzle as though performed from a big band straight outta hell, while others fizzle like a late-night lounge act. Occasionally, Adamson’s songs pop out with the same energy of a Cave composition, while others sound like pale imitations. One last analogy on the quality: half Bruce Springsteen’s “Streets of Fire”, half Walter Hill’s Streets of Fire.
Essential Tracks: “Get Your Mind Right”, “Destination”, and “If You Love Her”